Why I stopped using OpenOffice.org

An article, posted almost 12 years ago filed in ipad, work, app, internet, mac, office, openoffice.org, productivity & simplicity.

As promised. There was a time when I was a true OpenOffice.org fanatic. I even helped actively promoting it by redesigning the homepage . Although I’m still a fan of opensource and open document
storage which ideally should lead to a world in which anyone can use
open software and exchange documents freely without any barriers. Still, I’m no longer typing this in opensource software. I’m typing this in Google -how evil- Docs (update may 2017: Google Docs has been replaced by Apple’s notes and iAWriter / Notational Velocity, the latter being markdown based).

It’s not that I’m a big fan of Google Docs, but it makes a difference that OpenOffice.org, and other Office systems for that matter, aren’t able to make. Not stand alone, nor in a usable way in combination with a proper operating system:

For mosts of my tasks, I don’t need mark-up. I need a tool to write. And primarily a word processor should do is support writing, not distracting from writing.

Every now and then I still boot up OpenOffice.org to do the ‘harder’ stuff (but it almost seems they’re making things hard just to be able to call it ‘the harder stuff’). At other times I use it when I need just that extra bit of control over the appearance of a document, although it is nothing close to a real desktop publishing tool. Still, I find it disappointing that such an advanced system like OpenOffice.org doesn’t allow me to organize work in a way that is not competing with productivity. I want a system that allows me to search easily through the documents I created (or others), allow me to tag it instead of muffling it away in nested folders. A simple system that allows me to go one step back in time when I make a mistake. A system that saves automatically in an open format that is accessible by other tools without much of a hassle. And try to keep the things that are simple in the real world, simple in the automated world, such as making a quick drawing between the notes.

There used to be a time that I was hoping that opensource projects like OpenOffice.org would open up their Open Document parsers as a separate ‘office
engine’, more or less like Webkit exists powering Chrome and Safari, and Gecko that powers Firefox, alowing quicker evolution of
operating systems. Nowadays those web engines have been proven to be
good enough for word processing, and I’m hoping to see, and may even
start working on, even simpeler (maybe more like the initial Writely,
the predecessor of Google Docs, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be
web based, a simple ‘app’ might suffice
) tools that help me streamline the process of turning quick
notes into acceptable documents.

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